“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

Related imageThis book has been on my radar for a while, but honestly, I was a little scared to pick it up. The covers of this series are pretty creepy and I really didn’t know what to expect, but I figured it if was in the young adult section then it couldn’t be just outright horror-filled. And it wasn’t, just some startling photos sprinkled here and there.

Miss Peregrine is a woman/ymbryne who watches over “peculiar” children, which are kids who have special abilities thanks to genetics or some such. Emma can create fire with her hands, Millard is completely invisible, Olive can lift right off the ground if she is not weighted down, and Hugh has bees living in his stomach. There are a few others too, and they have all been living in Miss Peregrine’s time loop, where it is always September 3, 1940, over and over again.

Enter Jacob Portman who discovers the peculiars after his grandfather whispers a cryptic message to him on his final breath. Jacob and his dad travel to a mysterious island that used to be home to Grandpa where Jacob tries to find clues as to his grandfather’s early life. He stumbles upon Emma and Millard and follows them right back into the time loop.

By the end of the story, the kids are being hustled off the island while hollows (super evil death creature things that prey on the blood of the peculiars) and wights (basically a hollow’s sidekick) chase after them and attempt to kidnap Miss Peregrine.

It’s a very interesting book and I think the use of old photos is really effective throughout, even though some are a little creepy.

I’ve already started the second book in the series, “Hollow City.” It’s longer than the first but now that I’m invested in the series I’m excited to find out what happens.

For now,


“Sisterhood Everlasting” by Ann Brashares

This next book in the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series is actually set about 10 years after the fourth one. Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget are still besties, but their lives have been going in different directions. Lena is in Rhode Island, Carmen’s in New York, Bridget is in California, and Tibby moved to Australia on the fly.

One of the biggest surprises to me is that three of the four girls are still involved with their original love interests, which developed when they were teenagers. None of them are married, even though they are 29 and two of them have been in relationships for more than a decade.

Anyway, only a couple new characters are introduced, such as one character’s new man and Eudoxia, who Lena spends time with to practice her Greek. I actually think there are more new places than new people, even though the old places are mentioned plenty too.

On a totally different note, I think that Ann Brashares is the angel of death because every book by her that I’ve read so far has at least one family that’s been affected by a tragedy, and this one is no different. Granted, this one gives you a one-two punch because there’s a death you didn’t expect that’s kind of glossed over, and then there’s a death you REALLY didn’t expect that is focused on for the rest of the book. But even though it’s sad, it’s also happy in that the girls actually seem like they’re figuring out what they want by the end of the story. Which is weird considering they’ve had this long so far and they’ve been doing pretty bad at it.

Today I picked up “My Name is Memory,” the next book written by Ann Brashares, from the library, so I will probably start it soon. I also started “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs today, but I’m only on chapter 2 so far.

But that’s all for now,

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The End” by Lemony Snicket

Related imageWell, here we are. The Baudelaires washed up on an island and found some more mysteries before being confronted with Count Olaf yet again. Some surprising things happen, there’s some death, a birth, more questions.

The island is facilitated by a man named Ishmael, who perseveres in his quest to convince everyone to call him Ish, even though it happens like once in the whole book. Ishmael has everyone on the island under his control, thanks a little coconut cordial and some peer pressure, but the Baudelaires aren’t fooled.

We get somewhat of a view of the islanders’ stories after they leave the orphans’ presence, but nothing is much for sure. One of the Snicket siblings arrives because “everything washes up on these shores eventually.” There is a little bit of a power struggle, but then eventually the Baudelaires are left to their own devices and fair quite well for themselves.

One thing I want to know though, what happened to the Quagmires? What about Fiona and Fernald and Captain Widdershins? Where’s Esme? What is the big squiggly question mark thing in the water? Maybe it’s meant to be left to the imagination, but I would appreciate a little more closure.

Anyway, I will likely finish “Sisterhood Everlasting” by Ann Brashares tonight, which is the last book in my jumbled up series kick. But then it will get more twisty after that because I’m about to start the “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” series by Ransom Riggs, but I’m also going to start “My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares. I think I just can’t be satisfied with only one story at a time, even if they do get just a little twisty in my mind.

See you later,

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Penultimate Peril” by Lemony Snicket

220px-ThePenultimatePerilI remember when this book first came out and I was in seventh grade, my childhood best friend and I were discussing the story. I was so in awe that she knew the meaning of the world “penultimate” (next to last) because to that point, I actually figured that it was just a word that Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) had just made up. Even now, I don’t know if I would have known what the word meant without her telling me that way back when because it hasn’t really come up since then. Maybe I would have looked it up on my own, but we may never know.

Anyway, this is the 12th book in the “Series of Unfortunate Events” series. The Baudelaires go from the Queequeg straight to the Hotel Denouement, which is the where a big meeting is supposed to happen in just days. There’s lots of confusion about who is noble and who is a villain, and we really don’t get much of that cleared up by the end. There’s no sign of the Quagmire triplets, but they’re mentioned, so I’m sure they’ll show back up soon.

I’m again confused about the timeline of the story. It seems like there’s been quite a bit of time since the events of the first book took place, but this book happens over mere days. Maybe it’s meant to be ambiguous.

Another thing I noticed is that there are no families safe from Lemony Snicket’s power, which means that every family has someone who has died, whether it is parents or siblings or spouses. I guess it just adds to the unfortunate events.

I’m interested in what happens next to wrap up the whole series. There are still plenty of loose ends and I’m not yet sure how they will be tied off. It’s been so long since I’ve read this book that I don’t remember any of the plot, except one critical issue for one particular character.

At the same time, I am listening to “Sisterhood Everlasting,” which is the next book by Ann Brashares. I have the ebook, but I’m mostly listening to the audiobook. I’m not too far in but I already have some thoughts about the story.

More on that later,

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

9781416550600_p0_v11_s1200x630.jpgI honestly did not expect to finish this book before next week, but it was better than I expected it to be and I wrapped it up a little early.

Of course, I wanted to read it because I saw the trailer for the movie of the same name and apparently a lot of other people felt the same way, because I had a hold on this book at the library for almost two months before it actually came my way. Before I started the book, really all I knew was that it was a memoir.

The book chronicles Jeannette Walls’s childhood, which consisted mostly of living in rundown houses and moving place to place in the desert with little or no notice to evade creditors and the law. About half the book covers her first 10 or so years, and it amazes me how much she recalls from that time. I’m assuming she got some help from other family members who were there, because I sure know I can’t remember that much about my life when I was that young. She grows up with her parents, older sister, and younger brother and sister.

Next up, the family moves to Welch, West Virginia, where Jeannette’s father grew up. Throughout it all, the family is poor and neither parent seems to be able to hold down a job. The house they live in has no running water or indoor plumbing, spontaneous electricity (depending on whether the power bill was paid or not), and holes in the roof that let in water whenever it rains.

Eventually, Jeannette’s sister Lori, who is an artist, decides that she wants out of West Virginia, and the kids hatch a plan to send her to New York. Of course, their parents try to sabotage them, but she makes it anyway, with Jeannette soon to follow.

Maybe my point of view is skewed because I grew up with a supportive parent and never wanted for anything, but I almost hate Jeannette’s parents. It seemed like more often than not, the kids went hungry (Jeannette mentions literally digging around in the school trash trying to find food for lunch) while Rex, her father, drank all their money away, when they even had money. Rose Mary, Jeannette’s mother, had a teaching certificate, but hated teaching and would throw temper tantrums when her children tried to make her go to work so they could put food on the table. Instead, she claimed she was an artist, but an artist who was also unemployed and never seemed to sell any of her work. The parents were unaffected by the multiple sexual assaults that Jeannette faced, and seemed unconcerned that they were dirty and unclean and happened to get into lots of fights with other kids.

I just can’t believe a parent would be so selfish and do such a poor job of taking care of their children. It seemed like the kids had a stronger head on their shoulders than either of the parents. They were the ones focused on budgeting money and bettering their own situations, while Rex was gone for days at a time and Rose Mary announced that she was going to “focus more on herself,” even though she barely made any contributions to begin with. It’s just outstanding to me that people like this exist, but it makes Jeannette all the more impressive for not falling into that trap and doing well for herself, despite the situation she was raised in.

Jeannette’s young adult years are barely chronicled, but by the end of the book, the family has gotten back together to celebrate Thanksgiving. They are not necessarily a close family, and each has gone their own way, but none seem to hold much resentment for their past.

The book is just astounding at some points and almost seems like a work of fiction, but I don’t even know if an author could come up with some of the experiences that the Walls kids went through. Definitely a good book, though.

Off to read more books,


“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto” by Lemony Snicket

The_Grim_Grotto.pngI’ve been a little stuck on this book for a while. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting or that I didn’t want to read it, it’s just that I want to read so many other books at the same time and despite his quest to ensure that each book in this series has precisely 13 chapters, Mr. Snicket has gotten a little long-winded in his writing.

Anywho, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have escaped the Stricken Stream (book 10 stuff) and have found themselves aboard the Queequeg, which is a submarine captained by Captain Widdershins and his crew of two (his step-daughter Fiona and Phil, from the Lucky Smells Lumbermill).

They all set off to find the elusive sugar bowl, and we still don’t understand its importance. Along the way, there are poems and cooking and poisonous fungi. Eventually something bad happens because why not and Count Olaf shows up again, with hardly an explanation as to how he got his hands on his own submarine.

There’s some betrayal, another seemingly lost character shows up, then the Baudelaires (spoiler alert) escape again.

This is the first time I’ve actually been annoyed at any of the Baudelaires, but Klaus is starting to become a real know-it-all. He has always explained what *big words* meant when other people didn’t understand them, but in this book it seems like he’s just talking to hear the sound of his own voice. I understand using him as an educational tool to explain to kid readers what these vocabulary words mean, but I don’t really think he needs to explain what it means when Sunny says that she has cooked “pest lo mein.” Obviously she made lo mein with pesto sauce. You don’t need to explain the country of origin of the food, Klaus, just eat it! Also I am judging his poor taste in women… girl? I guess he’s only 12 or 13.

Only two more books left in the series, which I will probably start soon. In addition to all the other books I’m reading, I mean.

I’m sure we will meet again soon,

“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green

turtles-all-the-way-down-hd-cover-john-green.jpgOh, John Green books, how I love thee. I remember when I was a freshman in college and my roommate told me about this book that had just come out, “The Fault in Our Stars.” She let me borrow it and I became so emotionally attached to that book and those characters. I thought I would never read anything so profound again in my life.

I don’t think that “Turtles All the Way Down” is quite to that level, but it is still exceptional.

John Green has a way of writing about people that make it feel like they actually exist. Usually characters are predictable or too perfect or speak in a super eloquent manner that does not happen in real life, but the characters in this book are so real that it feels like John Green may have just been documenting the lives of a few teenagers he met.

The story is told from the perspective of Aza Holmes, when she has just found out that there is a $100,000 reward for information on the disappearance of Russell Pickett Sr., who is wanted for questioning after his company embezzled money (or something to that effect). Aza’s best friend Daisy wants to investigate, so they take a trip over to the Pickett estate, where Aza is reintroduced to Davis Pickett, who she has not seen in years.

A romance blossoms for both girls, but it is not sickeningly perfect, which I love about this book. All the while, Aza’s anxiety has her spinning down tightening thought spirals about a certain type of bacteria that her brain tells her will kill her.

At the end of the book, Aza is not magically *cured* from her anxiety, but I wouldn’t want her to be. The loose ends are all tied up, but the last pages make you question what happens in the future. I would be eager to read John Green’s thoughts on those last few paragraphs.

Another part of this book that I enjoy is that aside from everyone seeming like a real person, the book is super educational. Davis Pickett is super into astronomy, so he talks about stars and planets and meteor showers, Daisy writes Star Wars fan-fiction (not that I know much about Star Wars), and Aza is supremely educated on her microbes. It just makes me feel like the book dives deeper than it necessarily had to, but it makes it all the more pleasant to read.

Now that I’ve finished this book, I’ve added “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Looking for Alaska” to my list because John Green. I’m still wrapping up the “Series of Unfortunate Events” books and the collection of books written by Ann Brashares. Plus “The Glass Castle” but I will persist.

Bye for now,

“The Here and Now” by Ann Brashares

the-here-and-nowI’m impressed with this concept, but also a little disappointed at the same time. The book follows Prenna James, who is actually here from the future. There is this whole setup where the Earth is bad in the late 2080s or so and this group find some kind of time-hole and go straight through to 2010. So she and a bunch of other teenagers and adults come through to our time.

The book has so much potential, but I just don’t feel like it delivered. With something like time travel there are opportunities to talk about the different technologies of the future and how exactly it got to be so bad, but most of these things are mentioned casually and then glossed over.

Throughout it all, there is one “time native,” Ethan, who knows what is going on because he saw Prenna come through the time portal thing. Side note: what I want to know is how they discovered this time portal and knew that they would be safe just walking through to the other side.

Ethan is supposedly in love with Prenna but it seems like she has just been pushing him away for the entire four years she has been in this time. But that doesn’t stop him from literally telling her he wanted to get it on with her multiple times once she admits that’s she’s not from around here. Blame it on the teenage hormones?

There are also several characters that you just don’t dive into very deeply. Prenna’s father, who we meet and then leave pretty much simultaneously; her best friend Katherine, who even is this person?; Mr. Robert, etc. Also, how the heck did Prenna have these numbers written on her arm? Who put them there? Why is she the only traveler that Ethan saw in the woods? Why does she have amnesia? How in the world is she supposed to be a leader at 17? Did her mom fix the blood plague issue? Did Andrew Baltos change the future for good? So many questions unanswered. Plus it’s a book about people who have time traveled but we don’t get to see any time traveling and that’s a letdown.

Maybe it would take a second read to feel more favorably. Hard to tell.

One thing I noticed though is that all of these Ann Brashares books seem to be connected. This book isn’t the next one that she wrote time-wise, but it mentions Fire Island, which is the same place Alice and Riley spend their summers in “The Last Summer (of You and Me),” which is interesting.

Even though I have now finished this book, I am still reading three books at once, with “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto” by Lemony Snicket, “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green, and the audiobook version of “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, which I just started this morning.

Many books to read and not enough time to read them in,

“3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows” by Ann Brashares

4071565Here we have the next young adult book written by Ann Brashares, coming in right on the tail end of the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” timeline. “3 Willows” follows Ama, Jo, and Polly, who are about to start high school together and used to be besties but aren’t really close anymore. They have separate lives now, but they still creep into each others’ stories.

Ama is going on some kind of wilderness high for high school credit, and she hates it. Jo is staying at the beach, working as a bus girl at a restaurant where she has some boy drama. And Polly is obsessed with losing weight and going to modeling camp.

The name of the book comes from three tiny willow trees that the girls had to take care of when they were in third grade. They met each other the day the trees were handed out as part of a science project. Once the year was over, they planted the trees together in the woods. They used to visit them everyday and take care of them, but at this point they haven’t been there in about two years.

Throughout the book, they realize that the friendships they had with each other were true and that their new friends kinda suck.

The original sisterhood is actually mentioned somewhat frequently in the book. Their story is described and the new characters tell how many friend groups tried to recreate the famed *Traveling Pants.* The characters themselves show up too. Jo went to the soccer camp that Bridget was a counselor at, Polly babysits for Tibby’s mom, Polly knows Tibby’s boyfriend, Jo works with Lena’s sister and meets Lena on the fly. Ama doesn’t get any of those connections though. Probably for the best. It wouldn’t be as good if they were thrown in too much.

I think this book was supposed to be the first in a new series, but as far as I know it doesn’t have a sequel. Part of the title of the book is something like “The New Sisterhood: Book 1,” which would imply that there should at least be a book 2 but so far there is nothing. Maybe Ann Brashares is saving it to surprise us one day.

We’ll see,

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope” by Lemony Snicket

The_Slippery_Slope.pngThis series is really picking up steam. Violet and Klaus Baudelaire are left for dead in a snowy mountain and their little sister Sunny has been kidnapped by an evil villain.

But we do find out that someone who we thought dead is not actually dead and this character is quite helpful. And well-read. There’s lots more mystery surrounding the V.F.D. and we may actually know now what it stands for but it’s hard to tell if that is actually confirmed.

A couple other sinister characters are introduced, known only as the man with a beard but no hair and a woman with hair but no beard. Apparently they have an air of menace.

We don’t hear about the Quagmires in this book, who are presumably still up in the air with Hector and his self-sustaining hot-air mobile home. I’m sure they will show back up though. That is one thing that seems different about this series. There are plenty of characters, but they seem interspersed throughout the books, not necessarily clumped together in a sequence. You might meet someone in a book and not hear about them again until three books later. It’s an interesting choice, but I don’t dislike it.

The next book is called “The Grim Grotto.” I haven’t started it yet because of the other books that I am also reading, but I’m sure it will be soon.

Until we meet again,